There And Back Again is the Point North Media podcast that got my mojo back for me this year. I’ve written about my affinity for lists and my enjoyment of host Alastair Stephens’ work before, both alone and in former partnerships. This breakdown of J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings inspired me to create a schedule for my own pop culture diversions and creative endeavors. This has resulted in a boost to my own creativity that I’ve been needing for a while.
Thank you for this, Alastair.
As of this writing, I am completely up-to-date listening to this podcast. I listened to There And Back Again 21: Beyond the Shire last night while I was sorting parcels at the post office. I believe that gets us to Chapter Six of The Lord of the Rings. I’m slightly ahead of this in my own reading. My personal plan is to finish Chapter 12: Flight to the Ford this week. I’m savoring this read-through rather than going through it as fast as I could. A chapter a week is the plan. I generally keep several books going at the same time. This slower pace allows me to read more critically and to actually savor Tolkien’s grand creation this time.
Listening to Alastair Stephens discuss it further heightens the experience for me. Tolkien’s Middle Earth is a rich, multilayered creation, and the measured pace of the story gives the reader the feeling of being a member of Frodo’s traveling party. By analyzing and deconstructing elements of the story. Stephens gives the experience even more depth. I enjoy this sort of thing. I believe it improves my own abilities as a writer.
If you’ve read this far, you have already made up your mind whether this sort of thing appeals to you or not. It’s not everyone’s cup of tea, I’ll admit.
In podcast time, Merry has just joined up with Frodo, Sam and Pippin, and the journey hasn’t even begun really, even though this is at least 100 pages into the first volume, The Fellowship of the Ring. I’m looking forward to hearing about Tom Bombadil and Goldberry, the Barrow-Downs, the first meeting with the ranger Strider, the first real encounter with the Ring Wraiths on Weathertop, and then onward to the parts of the novel I haven’t read yet. I know that Rivendell isn’t far off from the point I’ve reached, and this is where the true fellowship of the Ring is formed.
If your only experience with Tolkien has been through the Peter Jackson movies, that’s okay. I believe Stephens plans to include those in this series of podcasts after the novel is completed. If you enjoyed the movies, however, I encourage you to read the books. The experience is so much deeper, more immersive. The movies, I will admit, gave me some additional visual imagery for this reading that I lacked when I first read the books as a teenager. It’s a case of different storytelling media enhancing the others. If you decide to read The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, again or for the first time, you may find that listening to (or watching on YouTube) There And Back Again will be enjoyable for you as well.